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flowers

Written by: Lanette Anderson, Hidden Villa Horticulturalist

 

I've been musing on richness lately. Summer on a farm is a good time for that. Even in this year of drought, when our water is lean and we're only able to plant a fraction of our usual crops we still have so very much.

 It's only fairly recently that I've come to think of richness in a broader context. Growing up I always understood it strictly as a measure of monetary wealth. The term brought to mind gold, diamonds, expensive cars, shiny and polished things. I thought of richness as something to strive for, something that required scrimping, saving and luck. Of course that's still one interpretation, but I've found it can be so much more expansive than that. I feel a richness of fruit in the overflowing bowl of sweet peaches on my counter, a richness of color in the bright buckets of flowers from the field, a richness of time in a lazy summer afternoon spent reading and sipping lemonade.

These types of riches deepen and even grow as they're savored and enjoyed. Scrimping or squirreling away won't serve this wealth. In fact there's something about these types of richness that invites sharing. You are rich because you have a little (or a lot) more than you personally need or can use. The big golden bowl of peaches on my counter is too full for me to eat all alone, which is why I feel so wealthy in them and why I baked a peach cobbler for my family.

Likewise, Hidden Villa thrives in large part because of the generosity and sharing of our community members like you. That richness of time and support that you share is magnified as it's enjoyed by all who come here. I see it in the campers who've been here this summer sleeping under the stars and tending to the chickens, in the interns whose lives and career paths are forever changed from their educational experiences here and in all our visitors who value the peace and beauty of this place. The Duveneck's generous gift of preserving this land and sharing it with all of us has sent ripples of richness through countless lives, my own included. I'm so grateful to share our richness with you.
What richness are you enjoying today?

 

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My name is Elena and I am the animal husbandry intern, just starting my second year internship here. Hidden Villa is a special place to learn and discover and I am excited to spend another year here farming and talking with the public who visits us. All these skills and experiences I am gaining here will help prepare me for when I have my own farm. I am learning how a farm is more than a place to cultivate food, but also has the potential to cultivate community.

I work on weekends, which means I am a very visible person to the public and am learning the value of having a strong relationship and dialogue available for the people who visit the farm. Families come up to me and talk to me about the different things they are seeing with the animals and our crop fields. They ask me questions and we are able to have a discussion. Sometimes they are quick questions, such as names or breeds of our animals. Other times those introductory questions lengthen and they start digging deeper into issues of food production and all the things needed and steps taken to make a food system sustainable and available for a broad range of people. I enjoy when this happens because those are the moments I get to see the effect Hidden Villa has on the community.

I appreciate that Hidden Villa does so much; it is not just a farm or an educational center or a summer camp or a nature preserve, but a mixture of all of these.  People usually come for just one of these things, but end up staying for all of them.  If Hidden Villa were just a farm, I would not have gained all the skills I have now and am continuing to work on.  I would not have had such strong mentors who have clear tasks to complete, but who also understand and actively want to teach and pass on what they know. They are able to take the extra time to teach and make sure that the interns get to see the whole process of a project, and explain all the details, even if it is something new that we have never done before, such as building a chicken wagon to house seventy chickens on the back of a trailer bed.  

I am excited and so grateful to stay on a second year. I now understand better how things work and the goals of the organization as a whole. I can see the impact Hidden Villa has on the community and thus I am better able to serve the visitors and interact with them when they come. I look forward to experiencing another year of full seasons and comparing how things differ from the year before. I am more able to think critically about projects and tasks, with one year under my belt. I appreciate living and learning in a safe environment where we are encouraged to try new things and stretch ourselves physically, emotionally, and socially, but where we are supported by each other.

 

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rainbow over hV 

We are grateful for the rain and all that it provides for us!

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Happy Valentine's Day from Hidden Villa! Hope you enjoy a picture of this wreath made from our own fresh olive branches, compliments of Lanette Anderson, horticulturist.

fresh olive branches lz

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Posted by on in Internship Programs

yd

"The 16 and 17 were happy days," says Dietrich on the second and last day of the Compass High Retreat. "I wish we would stay another night," he says.  "Me, too, Dietrich. Me, too," I respond.

Last Thursday and Friday were also happy days for me. Actually, they are the happiest days I have experienced as the Youth Development Intern.  We had our first retreat of the year and we were privileged to work with Compass High, a comprehensive high school for students with learning differences that just opened last fall.  Five of the eight students at Compass High joined us on Thursday morning, along with four staff, including administrators, so with Bill, Sid, and I, the ratio was greater than 1:1.  

"Welcome, everyone! We are excited to have you here. Now before we start with introductions, who can tell me why we are here?" I ask. "Community service," says Paige quietly.  I remember their names because we paid them a visit just last week.  We at Youth Development strive to visit every classroom before they visit ours, which is Hidden Villa's vast land.  We want to give students an opportunity to meet us and get to know us through our ice breakers and activities before we spend a whole day or more with them.

"That's a great answer, Paige. Who else has ideas of why we are here?" I ask.  A few moments later, Madison says, "Connect?"  "Yes!" I sigh.  "We are here for connection. We want to give you opportunities to connect with one another and we want to connect with you.  We want you to feel connected to this land, these trees, and these hills," I say, as I glance at the glistening green leaves around us.  

Connection was a theme of the retreat while the program focused on farm and wilderness.  After a few team-building activities and introducing the group to our beautiful farm animals, we set out to make apple muffins to deepen their understanding of where our food comes from.  We picked apples from our apple trees, collected eggs straight from chicken's nests, made butter, and grinded wheat berries.  In the end, we enjoyed apple muffins with a greater appreciation for earth because it provides so much for us.  

The next morning, we connected deeper with nature.  We walked alone on the trail for a few minutes while practicing to walk like a fox after expressing gratitude to people, earth, water, plants, our fellow animals, wind and weather, sun and moon, and the rest of the stars.  We made nature journals and befriended trees, which we got to know after spending time with them, noticing all that they were, what they felt like, what sounds they made, and what they smelled like.  As a last activity, we made pillows out of lavender, mint and other herbs, and wool we carded ourselves, wool from our very own sheep.

After a closing circle, in which we shared our beautiful perceptions of each other and hugged one another with great warmth, Bill, Sid, and I wished for more time with them.  Time to connect with them deeper, for them to connect with each other more, for them to see the connections all around them, with the land, trees and hills.  Josephine Duveneck once said, "Becoming aware of the relationship of all living things to other living things is the key to knowing ourselves. It is the basis for understanding the intricate web of life."  With Compass High, we strived towards increasing such awareness, and as our connection with them grows, we hope this awareness will also continue to grow.

To find out more about Hidden Villa Youth Development programs check out our Youth Development Page.

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wishes for the world lz

As we reflect on 2013 and head into a new, fresh and unknown year, we invite you to reflect on your wishes for the world. How can you let those wishes out into the world? How can you ground them through your experiences?

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Posted by on in Internship Programs

My name is Dulce Anahi Andrade Estrada and I was born to serve. Dulce-

I am the Youth Development Intern here at Hidden Villa. This means I serve middle-school- and high-school-aged youth through a wide range of programs, including farm and wilderness, team-building, and service learning. I will be sharing my personal experiences from our wonderful programming throughout the next weeks and in doing so, introduce you to the youth we love working with.

I am very fortunate to work in an organization like Hidden Villa after graduating from college. I am here because I value education and service. I am here because I wish to serve youth. As a Mexican immigrant from a low-income status and a first generation college graduate, I understand the value of being served. I understand the value of being given the opportunity to fulfill my dreams, to fulfill my dream of a college education. I understand the value of investing in youth and their hopes, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Without mentors and foundations, many dreams would be deferred, dreams including mine. I know what it feels like to be underprivileged but I also know what it feels like to be inspired by others’ commitment to make this world a better place, to make this world more just. Because of this, I am inspired to give back. I am inspired to serve youth as I have been served, with unconditional support and love.

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Although there are only 5 ingredients in this simple dish, it sure packs a punch and allows the hearty flavor of the vegetables speak for themselves.  As a great cold weather green that is packed with vitamins and fiber, the sauteed chard is mellowed by the soft roasted squash and warm garlic cream sauce. Impress your guests with this simple dish that is full of flavor, texture and nourishment. 

Ingredients:

1 Acorn Squash
1 Bunch Swiss Chard
4 cloves Garlic
¾ Cup Milk
2 Oz Feta Cheese

 

1.  Cut squash in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp.
2.  Place aquash cut side down on an oiled baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 400°F, until fork tender and set aside.
3. 
Peel cloves of garlic and add to oven for 10 minutes alongside the squash.
4.  Remove garlic and in a small mixing bowl, puree with milk and feta cheese, adding salt and pepper to taste.  5.  Coarsely chop chard and sauté in a medium saucepan with olive oil over high heat until wilty (stems are okay to use, add 2 or 3 minutes before leaves).
6.  Place sauteed chard into hallowed out squash and drizzle with cream sauce.  Bake for another 10 minutes and serve hot out of the oven. 

classic baked acorn squash

Photo courtesy of simplyrecipes.com

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Crisp fall evenings summon warm meals that satisfy our bellies and warm our souls. This hearty ratatouille dish is simple and easy to prepare, yet incorporates some of our favorite fall staples that will keep you and your family full and happy!

Ingredients: 

3Tbsp olive oil

1 onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves

1 handful parsley

2-3 eggplant cut into ½ inch pieces

2 pepper cut into thin slivers

4 tomatoes coarsely chopped

1tsp salt

pinch of black pepper

 

1.  Over medium-low heat, add the oil to a large skillet and saute the onion, garlic, and parsley, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened.

2.  Add the eggplant, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until the eggplant has softened. Stir in pepper, tomatoes, and salt, and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Stir in a few grinds of pepper to taste.

3.  Serve warm over a bed of grains or enjoy in a bowl with a piece of fresh, crispy toast.

cuttingboard

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rustic -meets elegant lz

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hidden villa apples lz

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Ripening in their delicate husks, tomatillos are hidden gems that provide a pop of flavor and color to many late summer dishes.   This week's recipe combines these flavorful fruits with our favorite smoky peppers to yield an easy yet hearty meal.  Keep it vegetarian and serve with crispy toast or toss in cubed pork for some added gusto.

tomatillos

Ingredients:

1pt tomatillos
olive oil
pinch of salt
1 medium onion, finely chopped
5 medium peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
6 oz grated cheddar cheese
Cubed pork (optional)

 

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Husk and dice tomatillos. On a baking sheet, toss with oil, chopped onion, and salt and place in the oven for about 20 minutes or until well cooked.
3.  Place tomatillos in a large saucepan and puree with an immersion blender until chunky.  Add seeded, chopped peppers.
4.  Stew until peppers become soft and add cooked pork if you like. Top stew with grated cheese and enjoy with crispy toast or tortilla chips!

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The word photography means writing with light but most photographers claim they are painting with light!

 

I chase the light in the early mornings in Hidden Villa’s deep woods. 

chase -the -light lz

chase -the -light one lz

 

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We just can't get enough of those sweet and juicy tomatoes! Their versatility enables them to shine in any dish and incorporating this week's tomatillos will add a punch of color and flavor to this summer stew. Keep it vegetarian and serve with crispy toast or toss in cubed pork for some added gusto.

tomatillos

Ingredients:

1pt tomatillos
olive oil
pinch of salt
1 medium onion, finely chopped
5 medium peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
6 oz grated cheddar cheese
Cubed pork (optional)

 

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Husk and dice tomatillos. On a baking sheet, toss with oil, chopped onion, and salt and place in the oven for about 20 minutes or until well cooked.
3.  Place tomatillos in a large saucepan and puree with an immersion blender until chunky.  Add seeded, chopped peppers.
4.  Stew until peppers become soft and add cooked pork if you like. Top stew with grated cheese and enjoy with crispy toast or tortilla chips!

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bird house lz

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Bring on the tomatoes! Hidden Villa's fields are bursting with these plump and juicy fruits that are packed with nutrition and flavor.  The intense summer heat has ripened them to their full potential and can be enjoyed best in this fresh summer salad.

tomatoes

Ingredients:

1 pint sungold tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup minced basil

1/4 cup thinly sliced sweet onion

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

pinch of salt

 

1. In a mixing bowl, prepare the onion by adding vinegar and salt and allow to stand while you make the rest of the salad.
2. Prepare tomatoes and basil and toss with onions.  Add salt to taste and toss together to combine ingredients.

Enjoy as a great side salad for any summer meal while soaking in rest of the season on your porch or patio!

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Look no further than Hidden Villa's farm fields!

new -hairstyles -a t-hidden villa cornfield lz

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SweetPeppers

Spice up dinner this week with this one-skillet medley that can liven up a plate of ordinary beans and rice.  The rich and smoky flavors from our anaheim and ancho peppers are released as they are pan fried and simmered with a variety of our summer tomatoes.  

Ingredients:

5-7 medium frying peppers, coarsely chopped (seeds and all)

olive oil

salt

1 large onion, finely chopped

5 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped

6 oz grated cheddar cheese

1.  Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add 3 T olive oil and the peppers.
2.  Stir fry the peppers until slightly softened-8 minutes. Add onion and a pinch of salt to taste and continue stir frying another 8 minutes.
3.  Add tomatoes, salt to taste and continue stir frying another 8 minutes until peppers are fully softened, onions are caramelized  to a golden brown and the tomatoes are stewed.
4.  Reduce heat to low, cover the skillet and allow to simmer for 8 more minutes.
5.  Garnish with grated cheese and serve over top a bed of warm beans and rice!

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There is nothing quite like getting your hands into the soil and spending a warm summer morning volunteering with our CSA crew. After going over details of the morning’s tasks, myself and fellow volunteers were directed to rows of melons and tomatoes to begin clearing weeds and as we worked, we learned why this tedious task was so important to keeping our crops productive and healthy. Not only did I get to know the land that I was working on, but I also got to know the people that I was working with. As we continued to zig-zag down each row, I was able to learn a little bit more about our volunteers and what motivates them to come out to Hidden Villa. Whether an employee, volunteer, or visitor, many of us share a common interest to connect with the natural world and feel a sense of responsibility to take care of this space for future generations.

That same week, I had the opportunity to volunteer with the Mountain View Community Services Agency, whom we partner with to provide about 25% of our produce to their Food and Nutrition Center, which is then distributed to over 4,800 low-income residents. I was excited to see first-hand how this figure makes an impact on the community. As I was led back to the Food and Nutrition Center’s distribution area, I instantly recognized our bright yellow bins full of cucumber, kale, squash, fennel and fresh basil. While walking through the different food stations, I was told that members loved coming on produce day because they have never tasted vegetables as good as the ones that come from Hidden Villa. In addition to donated produce, the Food and Nutrition Center also makes sure that the shelves are stocked with staple items such as rice, beans, bread and pasta to offer a balanced diet and easy preparation.

I couldn’t wait to throw on an apron and help out in any way that I could. Stationed at the check-out area, I made sure that baskets were full of the number of items each member was allowed to have and offered any assistance if they had questions about the produce. Not a single person passed through the check-out without a smile on their face and as I smiled back, I could not only see the impact that this partnership has in supporting the local community, but I could feel it. Spending time in the field with our CSA crew and volunteering with the CSA of Mountain View’s Food Bank gave me a great sense of appreciation for the amount of work that many folks contribute toward improving the lives of fellow community members.  

We must give more in order to get more. It is the generous giving of ourselves that produces the generous harvest.- Orison Swett Marden

kale and squash

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This week's CSA basket features crisp and crunchy green beans and this recipe provides a twist on this often pickled produce.  Swap out ordinary french fries for this healthy finger-food that can stand alone as an appetizer or as a savory side with grilled chicken, fish or other summer vegetables...no fork required! 

Ingredients

1 large bunch of green beans, rinsed

1 cup balsamic vinegar

Olive oil and salt to coat

Soy sauce (optional)

1. Heat one cup of balsamic vinegar in a saucepan, reduce until it is syrupy.

2. In a large mixing bowl, toss green beans with oil and salt.

3. Spread the beans in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast in the oven at 425 degrees. After 10 minutes, drizzle balsamic syrup over the beans and add soy sauce, if desired. Return beans to oven and roast until they are blistered and brown in spots.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Greenbeans

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